I am excited to welcome Nancy Holzner to Literary Escapism today. Nancy is the author of the fabulous book, Deadtown, and this is one book everyone should be checking out.
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders — but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…
Vicky’s demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw in a foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client, and a suspicious research facility that’s taken an unwelcome interest in her family, and Vicky’s love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown’s citizens.
But now Vicky’s got bigger things to worry about. The Hellion who murdered her father ten years ago has somehow broken through Boston’s magical protections. The Hellion is a ruthless force of destruction with a personal grudge against Vicky, and she’s the only one who can stop the demon before it destroys the city and everyone in it.
Doesn’t this sound good? Want to read an excerpt? If it does, stick around as we’re giving away a copy at the end.
Not long ago I was speaking to some college writing classes about (what else?) writing. One student asked a question that has stuck with me: “How did you know you were a writer?” Something about the way she phrased her question—or maybe it was the look on her face or the tone of her voice—made me realize she was asking something entirely different, that she was asking how she could find out whether she might be a writer.
People who want to write sometimes feel that they need outside validation, that someone has to give them permission, before they can begin. No one asks dentists, “How did you know you were a dentist?” Same thing goes for accountants, engineers, librarians, and zookeepers. We might ask, “Why did you choose that job?” but we assume that a combination of interest, training, and experience is what led them to where they are now.
Interest, training, and experience. It’s really no different for writers. But for someone hoping to become a writer, it can feel different. It can feel like you need some kind of sign to give you the green light to go ahead and write. Writing feels like a risky activity unless you somehow already know you’re a writer.
So how do you know?
I’ve heard other writers answer this question by saying that they can’t not write. Writing is a compulsion that won’t leave them alone. I understand what they mean, but that’s not my story.
I’ve always been a reader. My mom tells me that I was picking words out of newspaper ads by the time I was three. Because I loved to read, it didn’t take long for me to try my hand at writing. I was enchanted by stories and wanted to create my own. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I wrote frequently—poems, stories, plays, thoughts. In college, though, my focus changed. I started thinking about careers. I switched from English major to pre-med and then back to English. I worked at sharpening my analytical and critical writing skills as I thought about becoming an academic.
I gave up writing for pleasure. I gave up creative writing entirely.
When I say I gave it up, I mean for years. I got married, had a daughter, went to graduate school. I earned my PhD in English and got an assistant professorship. Later, I derailed myself from the tenure track and found other work: teacher, college admissions counselor, copyeditor, corporate trainer—although much of that work revolved around writing, none of it was writing.
I’d still get nudges to create stories. But I was really good ignoring them, burying them under a mountain of other things to do. There were always papers to grade, clothes to wash, meetings to attend, dinners to make. I could “not write.” And I did “not write.” During this time, the last thing I would have called myself was a writer. I was a mom, a wife, an academic, a teacher, an editor. But I didn’t know that I was a writer. I thought perhaps I wasn’t.
During those years, I’d catch myself creating scenes in my head. I never wrote them down. But I’d make mental sketches of moments from my day: taking the dog for a walk, working on a craft project with my daughter, recasting a lunchtime conversation with a colleague. Eventually, the scenes stretched into stories, which I’d plot out (still just in my head). The stories started to interest me, and eventually I began to pay attention to the nudges and started trying to figure out how to write them down.
For me, the nudges alone weren’t enough. I had to make a conscious choice to write. Writing takes patience, persistence, and work. A lot of work. Choosing to write means choosing all of that, even in the face of rejection, criticism, and indifference. Because if you choose writing, you choose those things, too. But I became a writer when I made that choice.
And I think that’s the answer to that student’s question, the one she stated and the one she was really asking. When I kept coming back to the page, day after day, to tell the stories I felt increasingly compelled to tell, that’s when I knew I was a writer. Now, I might say that I can’t not write. But it hasn’t always been that way. I had to work to get here. Writers write. If you want to know whether you’re a writer, that’s what you need to do. It’s that simple. And that complicated.
Contest Time! Nancy is offering up a copy of her new release, Deadtown. In order to get your hands on one of these puppies, all you have to do is answer her question: Think of something you’ve chosen to do. How did you decide it was right for you? International entries are welcome, but shipping may be delayed a little!
As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat:
- +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
- +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
- +1 Join the Literary Escapism Facebook page and/or follow LE on Twitter
- +1 subscribe to Literary Escapism – either via a reader or email (see the RSS button at the bottom of the sidebar)
- +10 purchase any novel through LE’s Amazon store sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: myjaxon AT gmail DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries, but it has to be through the LE Amazon Link.